Last season, the New England Patriots entered their bye week atop the AFC in the midst of a seven-game winning streak. Then things took a turn.
Following their Week 14 bye, the Patriots took on and lost to the Indianapolis Colts, a game that started a stretch of losing four of their final five games to close the season. That game against Indianapolis last season was on their mind throughout this past week.
“Obviously, talked about, you know, a lot about last year and how we felt after the game,” Mac Jones said postgame.
After drafting the Colts on Sunday, the Patriots now enter their Week 10 bye at 5-4 — tucked in the middle of a crowded AFC playoff picture. If they hope to make a run down the home stretch, they will need to attack their bye week with the same approach they took against Indianapolis last week, in hopes of avoiding whatever issues stemmed from their bye week last season.
It seems they are ready to do so.
“Going to enjoy the week and obviously work,” Jones said on Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEIs Merloni, Fauria, and Mego. “Don’t lose all the stuff you worked for just over one week. We’re going to have a good couple practices or whatever and get back to work.
“We’re going to work and then obviously we’ll have our time off.”
While New England will certainly self-scout their first nine games of the season, the main focus is forwards.
“You can look at some things and look back, but it’s really about looking forward and understanding we have a tough opponent coming up and we just got to put in the work,” Jones said. “Whatever that may be per player, everyone’s different. For me, just work on the things I can control — how do I get the ball out, how can I throw it to the open guy — things like that.”
Offensively, the unit certainly has work to do after totaling a combined 491 yards and just two touchdowns the past two weeks. For Jones, it all starts with better execution.
“I think we just need to execute the plays better,” he said on WEEI. “Whatever’s called, we need to do a better job, and that's what it’s about. You look around the league and the teams that just execute whatever’s called the best usually has good plays and they stack good plays. And then you have more points and your offense is good.
“It’s really nothing crazy. You can't have easy plays, they're all hard, it’s the NFL. No matter what it is, moving the ball against good defenses is going to be hard and we just have to do it by executing better and together and all that. So that's what we need to work on and we’ll get a chance to do that here.”
After the bye, New England will welcome the New York Jets to Gillette Stadium, who they defeated two weeks ago 22-17. It will be a game that the Patriots hope will start a winning streak to end the season, unlike last year.
“The bye week is just trying to get your body back — mental, physical, all that stuff — but obviously you understand what’s ahead,” Jones said. “That’s a great team, they're playing lights out right now. We have to understand that we want to not let the bye week slow us down, so that’s what we’re going to do.”